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What is a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB)?Blue Green Algae Blooms in Streams, Lakes and Ponds
What is a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)? Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These are collectively called harmful algal blooms (HABs).


Algae blooms most frequently occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather. Because it is hard to tell a harmful algae bloom from other algae blooms, we recommend avoiding contact with any floating rafts, scums, and discolored water.


Blue-green algae blooms can occur in freshwater lakes and ponds and can reduce the recreational value of a waterbody due to unpleasant appearances and odors and can cause a variety of ecological problems, such as reduced oxygen levels. They also have the potential to form harmful (toxic) blue-green algal blooms, although the factors that cause blue-green algae to produce toxins are not well understood.


Harmful blue-green algae blooms can cause health effects when people and animals come in contact with them. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Blue-green algae can also produce toxins that affect the liver and nervous systems when water is consumed in sufficient quantities.


If you see a blue-green algae bloom, avoid it! Blue-green algae blooms may have the appearance of pea soup. People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.


Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algal toxins, that all could cause illness if consumed. People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water, even if it is treated, during an algal bloom because in-home treatments such as boiling or disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV) or water filtration units do not protect people from blue-green algal toxins. If washing dishes in untreated surface water is unavoidable, rinsing with bottled water may reduce possible residues. While we don't know if water containing low levels of blue-green algae toxins could leave residues on dishes, taking this precaution may help reduce possible exposures.

 

Closure due to Blue-Algae Blooms

  • Mohegan Beach Park District and Mohegan Colony Association Beaches in Yorktown have both been closed until further notice due to blue green algae blooms.